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Abstract

This paper investigates central ideas in the emergent field of Earth Jurisprudence. It suggests that development of conceptual and practical frameworks for an earth justice system predicated on rights of nature is currently at a nascent stage, but such ‘creative uncertainty’ provides scholars and practitioners with opportunities to identify and articulate new conceptual frameworks which avoid some of the hazards of human exceptionalism.

Part I suggests that the concept of ‘rights of nature’ rests upon contestable epistemological and ontological claims and that an effective Earth Jurisprudence will require a continual negotiation of interpretative disagreements and frameworks for action.

Part II explores the ‘promiscuous concept’ of nature and argues that the ways in which biophysical reality is articulated and represented in some Earth Jurisprudence scholarship requires further investigation.

With reference to the concept of ‘rights’, parts III and IV investigate the relationship between the idea of a non-anthropocentric earth justice system and the pragmatic imperatives of human juridical systems. It suggests that the incommensurability between a theory of earth justice and practice of an earth justice system will continue to involve exponents of Earth Jurisprudence in a host of scientific, legal, political and ethical tensions, ones demanding an ongoing negotiation of conceptual frameworks together with a pragmatic willingness to concede to the normative anthropocentrism of juridical frameworks.